Carlisle Floyd's operatic treatment of John Steinbeck's novella, Of Mice and Men, premiered in 1970 at Seattle Opera. Floyd prepared the libretto himself and it is a remarkable example of how to transform literary materials into vocal music. Floyd labored over many revisions of this well known work, and recent revivals have brought Of Mice and Men a significant place in the American operatic canon. 


Floyd's musical style combines the continuous flow or parlando vocal style that characterizes a significant strain of operatic modernism, with the traditional romantic set-pieces of opera: the solo aria; duets between characters; interactions of characters with a larger group, the chorus. Beyond this, Floyd introduces strains of folk music, particularly cowboy music, into the piece, without actually quoting any known pieces. As in his Appalachian opera, Susannah, Floyd is adept at bringing modernism together with the social realistic ideals, the music-of-the-people ideals, of the previous generation, which included Aaron Copland.


There are some differences between Steinbeck's novella and Floyd's libretto. You can read a thorough synopsis of the novella on its Wikipedia page and of Floyd's opera on its page.


The videos that follow below can give you a very good taste of what you'll experience at Madison Lyric Stage's production. The first video consists of short excerpts from Kentucky Opera's 2009 production and includes a short interview with the composer. The second video is from the 2011 production at Opera Australia; we see an extended excerpt between George and Lennie, as they tell each other again their dream of a better life.

Visit the Grave House and Farm for this operatic treatment of John Steinbeck’s classic novella, where we witness the hardships and disappointments of men and women struggling through depression-era California. Audiences will witness man’s kindness and his cruelty in this stunningly lyrical American drama.


Composed in English in 1970, by Carlisle Floyd, Of Mice and Men has become a true masterpiece of American opera. Marc Deaton stars as Lennie, the simpleton who doesn’t know his own strength, with Daniel Hague as George, the only friend he’s ever known. ​​ Join us ‘on the farm’ before the performance to enjoy chili and cornbread, and meet the ranch-hands who work the Grave House land.


Performances are as follows:
Friday, May 31
7:30 pm
Saturday, June 1
7:30 pm
Sunday, June 2
4:00 pm

Friday, June 7
7:30 pm
Saturday, June 8
7:30 pm
Sunday, June 9
4:00 pm


All performances are at the Deacon John Grave House in Madison, Connecticut.


All tickets are $40 each and can be purchased through our Tickets pageas can three-performance season subscriptions for $99.99.